Abel Tasman National Park was by far my favourite place in New Zealand. It has so much to offer, I only had two nights here but this was one of the places I would have happily stayed for two weeks. New Zealand is a country which is full of amazing landscapes around almost every corner, and yet I still found Abel Tasman trumped all but Milford Sound in terms of the views. For me it was such an amazing thing to have calm, crystal clear waters alongside beautiful golden stretches of sand which lined the coast for miles. Surprisingly many of these beaches were somewhat untouched and we found ourselves being alone on these little slices of paradise.
On top of this you only had to take a step off of the beach and you would be in the middle of a luscious, green forest. You could spend your time using many of the companies on offer to go on a kayaking trip along the coast which varies from a couple of hours to several days. If you wanted to stay on land you could go for a walk along any of the well signposted walking tracks. Even if you only felt like walking a part of the track you could arrange for one of the many water taxis to pick you up from a certain point.
I decided to embark on a 3/4 day kayaking trip which only cost us just over £50. The kayaks themselves consisted of two seats and were very stable. After about ten minutes you start to get the feel of things and settle into the day. Our guide has actually only just moved back to Abel Tasman having been living in Christchurch for the seven years previous. However with the two earthquakes that rocked the city he felt it was best to relocate his family back to Abel Tasman. So we went about our paddling at whatever pace suited us, and we were given the choice of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do with the day.
One of the most amazing things about New Zealand is the abundance of wildlife which we are not gifted with in the UK. As with the rest of the country Abel Tasman followed the trend and as we rounded some rocks we came across a couple of young seals. As the next ten minutes unfolded we were all dumbfounded as these two seals came into the sea and swam circuits around and under us. It was simply incredible. At one point I actually thought the seal was going to jump onto our kayak which I was informed has actually happened before. As if we thought that moment couldn’t be beaten, we then stumbled upon the ever elusive, smallest and rarest penguin in the world, the blue penguin. This little fella was just swimming along minding his own business… until our another kayak in our party almost had a head on collision which was well avoided by our new friend.
For the rest of our little excursion we stopped on a small island where we were shown penguin burrows.. in the forest. Yes I know this sounds very odd indeed but not nearly as odd as it looks. We then kayaked around said island and headed for a deserted, golden beach to have lunch. After chilling out for lunch and watching the other seagoing vessels for a while we took our kayaks back to the sea and slowly headed back to base.